One complaint of many Texans concerns the corrupting access and influence certain lobbyists with deep pockets enjoy with lawmakers. In fact, politicians on the campaign trail like to rail about the supposed evils of lobbyists. It’s an easy applause line. So what then to make of Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s decision (or that of his proxies) to give a Texas Senate press pass to the right-wing lobbying group Empower Texans? Colossally poor judgment? Or something more insidious?

After the stormy tenure of Jeff Sessions as attorney general, the likely return of William Barr to the job — which he held with distinction under President George H.W. Bush — has been greeted with sighs of relief at the Justice Department. The reason is not hard to divine: Bill Barr is an accomplished lawyer with a deep respect for the law and for the integrity and independence of the department — something I know from having served under him. After his solid performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, he seems almost certain to be approved by the full Senate.

Flashback

What were we talking about one year ago? Take a look back.

The downsides of President Donald Trump’s first year in office are legion, but among the most serious has undoubtedly been his effect on American soft power. Case in point is the global response to the president’s alleged remarks that the United States should no longer accept immigrants from “s---hole countries” such as Haiti and various African nations — an episode that has shown how Trump excels at using the bully pulpit to bring down international condemnation on his own country.

McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna expressed his familiar contempt for the Tribune-Herald in Thursday’s tooth-and-nail candidate forum with challenger Barry Johnson before the McLennan County Republican Club. In branding the Trib a purveyor of “fake news” and a “ridiculous rag,” he inspired applause from supporters in one part of Knox Hall, stunned silence from Republicans elsewhere. By the time the hour was done, the 45-year-old DA had succeeded only in confirming his sustained lack of accountability to taxpaying voters and reality-based press regarding sworn allegations of corruption.